If we are going to see churches planted in some of neediest, most deprived communities, several things are going to have to happen. We are going to have to get serious about all of these if we are going to reach the whole of our nation for Christ.
Showing an interest
At the heart of the matter, we have few plants going into hard places because not enough people take an interest in them. There are lots of reasons why this might be – some worse than others – but simply put, not enough people care about sending people into hard places. Many of us aren’t praying about it and for more than a few of us, it is not even on our radar. When people do intend to do go, we often aren’t interested enough to offer support or do a great deal about it. If we want to see churches in hard places, more of us are going to have to take a real interest.
If we aren’t praying about churches in deprived communities now, and we aren’t identifying and praying for churches to be planted in specific places where there are none, what makes us think any will come about? If we really want to see churches planted where there are none, we need to get serious about praying for them to be planted.
Far too many church plants never happen because we are, largely, far too conservative. Not in the theological sense, but in the risk-averse sense. We are so scared of failure that we often aren’t willing to take any sort of risk. But almost all church plants involve some risk. And those going into virgin territory are riskier still. If we really want to see churches planted where we are yet to go, we must be willing to take real gospel risks.
I suspect if we found a way to plant churches in every deprived community in the country without it costing anybody else any money or taking any of their people, we would have churches in every hard place going. But that isn’t how it happens, is it? We need money to get churches off the ground and it, famously, doesn’t grow on trees. We also need people – existing Christian people who already know the gospel – to go and take it to people who aren’t Christians and don’t yet know the gospel. What this means is that if we are neither willing to lose money or people to see churches planted in hard places, we aren’t going to see churches planted in hard places or, frankly, anywhere else where they don’t yet exist.
Why do we plant churches at all? If we’re about our empire, we’ll not be taking any risks and we’ll not be going to any out of the way backwaters. If we’re about making church more convenient for those of our people travelling from elsewhere, we won’t be putting any churches where there aren’t any Christians but doing specifically to serve Christians we’re already serving. But if we’re about faithfulness to Christ, we will be establishing churches where there are none so that we can reach and disciple those who have yet to hear of Jesus. It is only genuine faithfulness to Christ that will cause us to active plant churches in hard areas (and, frankly, unfaithfulness to him that means we won’t bother or don’t care).
So, what are you going to do to actively help put churches where there are currently none? What are you going to change so that we might see some of our poorest and most deprived communities reached with the good news of the gospel? If we say the gospel is for all, and we believe that the great commission extends everywhere, how will you show yourself faithful to it to see gospel preaching churches established so that the lost might be won in deprived places?